Red Hat's JBoss Aims to Improve User Productivity, UI in 2010

by Sean Michael Kerner

What is Red Hat doing to further expand its JBoss middleware and developer tools?

Red Hat's JBoss middleware division is set to have a busy 2010 as it continues to improve its developer tools and Java servers. While feature improvements are always important for JBoss, this year's focus will be on improving the way that developers work with their tools and servers.

Among the efforts that JBoss will be pushing this year are improvements to its JBoss Developer Studio (JBDS) . JBDS began its life as a closed-source technology from vendor Exadel, called Exadel Studio Pro, which was open sourced in a joint development with JBoss in 2007.

Mark Little, Red Hat's chief technologist for middleware, told InternetNews.com that JBDS has been seeing regular releases while adding new features. But he said the key to moving forward, however, is about improving productivity.

"We've slated the next year and possibly the next two years for improving productivity and out-of-the-box look and feel for all of our platforms and projects," Little said. "JBDS is a key component of that, as good tooling is what people expect if they're coming from closed-source vendors. JBDS puts us in the same light as the likes of IBM and Oracle."

Little added that in the past, JBDS was focused on the JBoss application server. Going forward, JBDS will now be expanding across the JBoss SOA (Service-Oriented Architecture) platform as well.

"We're now starting to see SOA-based tools in JBDS, and that's still in its relative infancy," Little said. "So over the next year or so, I'd expect to see that growing."

A related area of growth for JBoss is in how it relates to the OSGi (Open Services Gateway initiative) modular approach to Java. Little said that until recently, JBoss had been looking at OSGi, but hasn't put a lot of effort into it.

"We've now seen people that have developed OSGi bundles that they've created on other containers and deploy them into JBoss Application server," Little said. "A lot of this came from SOA -- an OSGi bundle is a pretty good unit for encapsulation of a service."

As a result, Little said JBoss has started to look at OSGi, not as a replacement for its own micro-container architecture, but as an alternative that can work in tandem with it.

"We can support OSGi bundles running alongside our native equivalent format," Little said.

Part of the OSGi support came by way of the JBoss OpenChoice initiative that Red Hat launched at JavaOne in 2009. With OpenChoice, JBoss announced an initiative to have a lightweight Java Web platform server.

Little said that the JBoss Web platform is a subset of the full JBoss application server, and added that it won't evolve much beyond its initial capabilities from its first release.

"If you want more ... you would go up to the next level, which is a full-blown application server," Little said. "If you start to offer more things into a lightweight container, eventually it becomes a heavyweight container. So there is a lot of merit to be for us to maintain the Web profile as purely a Web profile."

Overall, Little said that there are new features for various JBoss products that people ask for, but the biggest thing that people ask for isn't around features.

"Probably the biggest thing we get asked about is simply improving the out-of-the-box experience, manageability, and ease of use," Little said. "That's not something you can fix by adding new, super-cool features. That really is the theme for 2010, and possibly beyond."

"There will also be improvements to performance where necessary, but this is really about making it so that hard-core developers are not the only ones that are able to understand and configure JBoss."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on Monday Jan 25th 2010
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